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CHICAGO

Catherine Zeta Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, Christine Baranski, Taye Diggs

Directed by: Rob Marshall
Written by: Bill Condon

US: 27/12/02
UK: LONDON 26/12/02. WIDE 17/01/03

Long-awaited film version of the Broadway smash set in the roaring 20's. Story of Chicago chorus girl Roxie Hart (Zellweger), who shoots her unfaithful lover (West). Landing in jail, she meets Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones), another chorus girl and murderess, currently enjoying media attention and legal manipulation, care of her attorney, Billy Flynn (Gere), king of the old "Razzle Dazzle." Soon enough, however, Flynn takes Roxie's case as well, and Velma finds herself old news as Roxie is now the most famous murderess in town, on her way to getting out of jail and becoming a star. The two go through a series of attempts at getting what they both want (often conflicting): freedom and fame.


The hype for this will be relentless - and the theatre crowd will love it. But how's that going to translate into the movie crowd. You know the 16-34 year old males Hollywood panders to.

One has to assume plenty of near naked babe publicity shots of La Zeta Jones and Zellweger. Incidentally how many flicks can you name where the two lead females had surnames beginning with Zed (or Zee if you're a yank?) And Americans please note - the CORRECT spelling of Zeta Jones is without the hyphen, okay??

MEDIA BUZZ
10 Mar 2003/New York Times: Men of the Theater, Competing for Oscars
24 Feb/Moviebus: Great result at starworthy British Academy Awards
11 Feb/Moviebus: Chicago leads with 13 Oscar noms
27 Jan/Moviebus: Chicago & New York lead 2003 BAFTA noms
20 Jan/Moviebus: Complete list of Golden Globe winners
20 Jan/Moviebus:Time for 'Chicago' & 'The Hours' at Golden Globes
19 Jan/New York Times: John C.Reilly...The Familiar Face That Nobody Knows
15 Jan/New York Times: A leave-no-stone-unturned approach to campaigning for the Oscars has been adopted by virtually all of the movie studios.
11 Jan/Weekly Standard: A Pre-Pre-Oscar Malaise - Why "Chicago will win Best Picture, even though it shouldn't
27 Dec/Associated Press Movies: Zeta Jones Praises Co-Star's Stamina
27 Dec/New York Times: It's a Noisy Hall With a Nightly Brawl, but No Fosse
26 Dec/Reuters: 'Chicago' Benefit Razzle-Dazzles NYC
23 Dec/Reuters: New Film 'Chicago' May Revive Hollywood Musical Genre
19 Dec/Moviebus: Chicago leads Golden Globe noms with 8

REVIEWS
E! Online/Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Trib/Cincinnati Journal
Screen Daily UK/New York Daily News
Film Journal/Jam Movies
Film Threat/LA Times
New York Post/New York Times
USA Today/Reel Reviews
Hollywood Reporter/Film Critic.com


Ebert & Roeper
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"Careful boys... the old man's watching and he gets jealous"



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Why has it taken so long for this excellent musical to reach the big screen? Written in 1976 by Fred Ebb, John Kander and Bob Fosse (Cabaret), it took the recent West End/Broadway revival to bring it back into the public eye. And the result is one of the most entertaining movie musical in years. The story centres on Roxy Hart (Zellweger), a very modern 1920s woman with a deeply dull husband (Reilly) and a bit on the side (West) who ends up dead. Charged with murder, Roxy goes to jail where she meets her idol, the vaudeville singer Velma Kelly (Jones). And both them are taken under the wing of the prison matron (Latifah) and represented by grandstanding lawyer Billy Flynn (Gere), who has never lost a case and knows how to wrap the media around his little finger. Besides being an energetic show full of fantastic songs, the story plays seriously with themes of fame and identity, celebrity trials and media sensationalism. Cleverly, director Marshall blends the stage version's vaudeville structure with a more cinematic style, pushing the action onto the streets of (an admittedly stylised) Chicago and letting the stage numbers blast their way in as pure stage performances. It works brilliantly, drawing us into the story and integrating the music perfectly while never sacrificing the raw, sexy tone.

Zellweger and Gere shine in the leads--musically, dramatically and comically--creating real characters that are deeply shady. But Jones steals the whole thing with a gutsy, powerhouse turn as the strong but vulnerable Velma. Supporting characters are excellent as well, played with sharp detail by the terrific cast. Two technical complaints: Marshall's direction and editing seem a bit impatient, refusing to show performances in long takes so we can soak them in, cutting to often to close-ups and losing the flow of the musical numbers. And while the film looks fantastic on every level, it also seems low-budget with a somewhat limited design. The sets are a bit too small and sparse to carry off the bigger songs, no matter how busy the production design seems to be. But those are minor quibbles for an otherwise magical piece of musical cinema with unforgettable songs and characters. And something to say as well. @UHQ

 


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